This reprieve is intended to give the industry a bit more time to move in a greener direction. However, Ottawa still intends to shut down open-net salmon farms in Pacific waters.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the new licenses granted include more stringent requirements, including the implementation of standardized measures for sea lice reporting and management plans, as well as monitoring of wild salmon.
The ministry adds that it will share the draft of its transition plan for the industry over the next few weeks and that consultations will be conducted until early next year.
Discussions will take place with the Government of British Columbia, First Nations and industry stakeholders, among others.
The federal government intends to develop its final transition plan in the spring of 2023.
” We will transition the aquaculture industry to one that is on the cutting edge of new technologies, while reducing or eliminating interactions with wild Pacific salmon. »
Minister Joyce Murray wants the implementation of a
environmentally sustainable aquaculture technology.
Closed salmon farming methods have already been proposed as an alternative to open net pens in the ocean and were the subject of an election promise by Justin Trudeau in 2019.
The British Columbia Salmon Growers Association is pleased that Ottawa has heard the industry’s concerns and concerns. It also re-emphasizes the idea that farmed salmon pose a minimal risk to the health of wild salmon species.
The BC industry produces over 70% of Canada’s farmed salmon.
In all, about 7,000 jobs in coastal communities depend on the farmed salmon industry, according to the association, and annual revenue generated in British Columbia is estimated at $1.5 billion.
The British Columbia government says it will work with the federal government to put in place a transition plan and safeguard wild salmon species.
The Island Saga Discovery continues
The two-year renewal of licenses for fish farming facilities in the province, mostly salmon farms, excludes the Discovery Islands area.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has already ruled on this essential region for the migration of wild salmon. At the end of 2020, Ottawa announced that the licenses of the 19 salmon farms in this area will expire on June 30, 2022.
The decision went to court and the Federal Court ruled in favor of the industry last April. The Department replied that it will conduct new consultations for this region, with First Nations, as well as with operators working in this sector.
This region accounts for almost a quarter of the province’s farmed salmon production, according to the Salmon Breeders’ Association.
A final decision will be made in this case in January 2023, according to Ottawa. Until then, Fisheries and Oceans assures that it will not issue any permits for Atlantic salmon facilities in this region.
Wild salmon at risk
The federal government recalls that wild Pacific salmon face historic threats and are experiencing a significant decline in their population.
The reprieve given by Ottawa is, in the eyes of marine biologist Daniel Pauly, precious time wasted in an attempt to save wild salmon species.
” This extends the deadline even further and no one knows if Minister Murray or the same political intentions will still be there in two years. »
Fifty populations of Pacific salmon are under consideration for possible listing as a species at risk or awaiting assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).